Megan Sandover-Sly, owner of Thrift/Craft, says the community’s ongoing support for her small, second-hand craft supply business helps her feel positive despite the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Megan Sandover-Sly, owner of Thrift/Craft, says the community’s ongoing support for her small, second-hand craft supply business helps her feel positive despite the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria crafters keep busy during COVID-19 pandemic

Local craft stores adjust hours, say community support stays strong through crisis

From 7 p.m. pot banging, all-day sourdough bread baking and crafting of all kinds – the COVID-19 pandemic has led many people away from the daily grind of productivity and towards the things that bring them joy and calm.

At least that’s the theory Julia Hugget, manager at Beehive Wool Shop, uses to explain higher sales of brightly coloured yarn and knitting materials.

“We’re selling a lot of bright fun colours, normally it’s greys and neutrals,” Hugget said. “People are taking a moment to do something fun and springy and joyful…as an expression of joy and calm and peace.”

She jokes that everyone sitting at home is either “baking, gardening or knitting.”

“Knitting and crocheting is very meditative, very calming. It takes you away from the screen, away from the kids or the husband, whatever it may be,” she said with a laugh, adding that there is a sense of accomplishment to seeing your progress “even if it’s just you sitting on your couch with two needles and a ball of yarn.”

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria residents find compassion and community amid COVID-19 isolation

The Douglas Street craft shop is open for online and phone orders with curbside pickup only – but Hugget said with reopening guidelines from the province, the team is preparing to open for appointment only after May 19.

“We don’t want to open too fast or be rushed into something where we can’t ensure the safety of our staff,” she said. “Our number one thing is we miss seeing our customers. We feel very well supported by the community and that customer support allows us to be a little more prudent with safety measures.”

A few blocks away, nestled in the southwest corner of Market Square, Megan Sandover-Sly works to keep Thrift/Craft open for the city’s makers and creators.

The brick and mortar craft supply shop is full of second-hand gems – buckets of beads, ribbons, postcards and Polaroids line the store’s shelves, and bins full of vintage Playboy magazines, photos, old letters and endless markers, paints and pencil crayons meet your eye at every turn.

It’s a tactile, feeling-based shopping experience, Sandover-Sly explains. People come not only to be inspired, but to dig their hands into a bucket of cat’s-eye marbles or rummage through discarded jewelry.

READ ALSO: B.C. records just 7 new cases, 1 death as next phase of COVID-19 reopening inches closer

At least – that’s what it was before the pandemic. Listing large quantities of “bits and bobs” online is next to impossible, but Thrift/Craft has adjusted to COVID-19 with weekend take-out services on Saturday and Sunday. Shoppers can pre-order from a set menu and pick up their crafting materials between noon and 2 p.m.

“For about two weeks, it was just closed. Then I was getting a lot of messages with people asking for things…mask-making supplies and paint and things, so I figured I’d want to open for them,” she said, adding that many weekend shoppers have been purchasing graffiti and street art materials.

Before the pandemic, Thrift/Craft was doing exceptionally well, she says.

“The shop was getting quite busy, there was times there would be 30 people in the shop at a time – even in February. People would come all the way from Seattle to shop at Thrift/Craft,” she said. “And then all of a sudden the borders closed and nobody is coming to shop and I still have to pay all my rent and all the hydro and all these other things.”

While she’s struggling with a sudden dip in income, Sandover-Sly quickly launched a fundraiser to help get craft supplies into the hands of local youth during the pandemic. More than $600 in donations will bring craft supplies to 140 kids.

“Maybe mom and dad don’t have time to get supplies…or it’s hard to put your budget towards [crafts] when you need to be focused more on just keeping a roof over your head,” she said.

At the end of the day, Sandover-Sly feels it’s important for everyone to find their outlet.

“[The pandemic] is bringing a lot of different emotions out of people,” she said. “Some people are very positive, some people are becoming very political, some people are becoming very non-political and switching to just being a little bit more thoughtful about what they do.

“I think a lot of people are angry too. So you’re going to see probably a lot of people working on art that has a very negative look to it,” she added. “But that is a really positive thing – for people to work through their emotions. I definitely made a pretty dark-looking collage a couple days after I closed the shop.”

Starting May 18, Sandover-Sly plans to open for regular hours with strict cleaning and safety protocols and restrictions on the number of shoppers allowed in-store. Some of the items will be off-limit to restrict contact.

“I feel positive because despite being low on funds right now, there’s a lot of people who do support the shop by purchasing here instead of going to bigger businesses,” she said.

READ ALSO: 50 things to do at home during the coronavirus pandemic

Victoria Beadworld has been operating out of Market Square since 1984. The store is also adjusting to the new reality. But manager Kathy Murray says it’s one where beaders and crafters are leaning in to their creativity.

Customers can have orders sent to them or shop by appointment, and a staff member is in the store each day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Murray said each day someone has been in the shop has been worth it, financially, based on the number of sales.

“I think it’s one of those summers where people will feel more like staying home and feel like doing more crafts,” she said, adding that many are picking up beading or trying to make some extra money, selling their crafts. “I think people have been wondering when we will be open and they can come get supplies.

“I foresee us rebounding and having no problems in the months ahead.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusSmall Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Megan Sandover-Sly, owner of Thrift/Craft, says the community’s ongoing support for her small, second-hand craft supply business helps her feel positive during the COVID-19 crisis. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Megan Sandover-Sly, owner of Thrift/Craft, says the community’s ongoing support for her small, second-hand craft supply business helps her feel positive during the COVID-19 crisis. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Just Posted

Kiana Chamberland was last seen April 15 in Esquimalt. (Victoria Police Department)
MISSING: Kiana Chamberland, considered at high risk

The 24-year-old was last seen April 15th in Esquimalt

Six people are said to have escaped injury and are currently receiving assistance after an early Sunday morning fire in Central Saanich displaced them. (Central Saanich Fire Department/Twitter)
Six people escape early Sunday morning fire in Central Saanich unharmed

Cause of the fire on Galbraith Close remains under investigation

Applied theatre researcher Dennis Gupa wearing a traditional Filipino malong at a local beach in Victoria. (Credit: John Threlfall)
UVic researcher uses theatre to empower marginalized voices, fight climate change

Dennis Gupa looks to create new modes of expression, knowledge sharing

Metchosin ecologist Andy MacKinnon is raising alarm bells for arbutus trees, as many are falling victim to a fungus called leaf blights. The leaves and branches of the trees are turning brown or black and then dropping off, eventually killing them. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Vancouver Island arbutus trees fighting for survival against parasites

Many trees weakened, turning black or brown and dying, says local ecologist

Sooke resident Lesa Cro started up a new pet waste removal business. Cro goes to yards in the region, removes all of the waste and then composts it, so that it doesn’t go into landfills. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
New pet poop-scooping business picks up in Sooke

Poop No More service taking the ‘dirty work’ out of lawn cleaning

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read